TO CHEW ON: "Break forth into joy, Sing together
You waste places of Jerusalem!
For the Lord has comforted His people
He has redeemed Jerusalem." Isaiah 52:9
Unless we've been kidnapped and held for ransom, being redeemed probably isn't something with which we have a lot of experience. A pawnshop is probably the closest modern redemption scenario we're familiar with.
People short of money bring their valuables to these businesses. They enter into a contract with the owner whereby in exchange for property (jewelry, say, or a pricey camera) the pawnshop owner lends them money. If they want their property back, they must return within the required amount of time and redeem or buy back that ring or camera by paying the money they borrowed plus interest (called a ransom). If they don't redeem on time, the pawnshop owner can sell their stuff and keep the proceeds for himself.
The theme of redemption goes through the Bible.
- In Leviticus 25:23-55 God lays out for Israel the rules for physically redeeming property and slaves.
- In the book of Ruth, Boaz was the relative who redeemed Naomi's land and in this way also secured Ruth his wife. In the spiritual sense redemption refers to people being delivered from enslavement to sin.
But even before that, Jerusalem was a city that had fallen into serious spiritual and moral decline. The time of Isaiah is described in my Bible:
"Secret places of pagan worship were tolerated; the wealthy oppressed the poor; the women neglected their families in the quest of carnal pleasure, many of the priests and prophets became drunken men-pleasers...It was clear to Isaiah that ...judgment and captivity were inevitable for Judah, even as it was for Israel" - Nathaniel M. Van Cleave in the introduction to Isaiah, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 871.
And so Isaiah prophesies a time when God will redeem the city and again own it. It will be a time of joy, rejuvenation and comfort.
What significance does redemption have for you and me today?
1. Jesus is our ransom - Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18.
Jesus' death on our behalf pays the price for sin that our just God requires. This ransom is paid to God, not Satan.
"God's mercy ransoms men from God's justice" - Shedd (quoted by H. Thiessen in Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 328.2. Our sins are forgiven - Colossians 1:14.
3. We're adopted into God's family and are His children - Galatians 4:4-5.
4. We are free to live a new lifestyle where we:
- glorify God in our bodies and spirits - 1 Corinthians 6:20.
- are "...peculiarly His own, people who are eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds" - Titus 2:14 AMP.
- need to be watchful that we don't again return to being slaves - 1 Corinthians 7:23
What an incredible gift of release! No wonder it is accompanied, in Isaiah, with joyful singing.
I ask myself, am I living like someone who has been redeemed, as God's possession, His child? Or am I practically still in the pawnshop of sinful habits, other peoples' opinions of me, my idea that I belong to myself and as a result continue to serve my own plans and agendas? Jesus has paid dearly to ransom me, you, all of us from these things. Let's live life as God's property, His redeemed, set-free kids.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the price my sin required — death on the cross. Help me to life the free life You have for me as Your adopted chid.
MORE: "My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness" - Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend - sung by Kristyn Getty
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)